It is a season of transition, for me, for my family, for my ministry. And transitions are a time that naturally lend themselves to reflection, to consider what has happened, what it means and what part it plays in the next steps of our journey.
Malia and I have invested the last six years of our lives in the Boston area, at first to go to seminary and work with Cru, and we ended up staying around to have a family and serve with Grace Chapel. We’ve only attended one church the whole time we have been in Massachusetts. Grace Chapel. And it has made all the difference.
As we prepared to embark for Boston the summer of 2010, we were both limping spiritually. It had been a heart wrenching couple of years of picking up the pieces of our walk with God after watching the church of my youth implode around our family. When I arrived at seminary, to ostensibly prepare for a lifetime of ministry, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to attend a local church, let alone lead one.
We were hurt, afraid and unsure that God could work through a church in such a way that they were healthy, loving and loved God. But, God had a plan in all of it. He was working in the background to prepare the way.
I had known from the time that I was 18 that I was called to be a pastor, but my Dad was a pastor so I knew it was an awful job/career. I needed healing and restoration and a new vision for ministry and life. I didn’t know that was what I needed, but God did.
When we arrived in MA we knew like 4 people and they all went to a church (Grace Chapel) that was a 35 minute drive from where we lived, but we thought that having people that you loved at your church was probably more important than the location. We had heard that Grace Chapel was planning to start a satellite campus in the community that we were launching a high school outreach in, so we jumped in with both feet.
Best decision we ever made without having any idea how important it would be.
I could gush about my church, the relationships, the leadership, the people, the worship, but I will try to be restrained for the sake of your time, but here are a few of the reasons that I am thankful for Grace Chapel where I have served on staff the last 3+ years.
A Healthy Culture
After the implosion of my child hood church in my early 20’s, I wasn’t sure I thought church could work, that people were too broken to trust as a second family, that the institution would always come before people. I was wrong. I’ve seen a couple of places. One was the church that we landed at in Boise, Bread of Life before we moved to Boston, and Grace Chapel.
Grace seems to always put people before policies, before institution, before ministry. People are front and center, and not just the idea of people but actual people, broken people, hard people, all people. I saw this in their care for staff and staff families, and most notably in the pastoral care that was offered to people who were even nominally connected with Grace.
Three years ago this month I was installed as the Pastor of the nascent Watertown congregation. I honestly could not have told you where it was or that it existed before the marathon bombings two months earlier, and now it will always be a part of me. Grace Chapel gave me the amazing opportunity to launch, lead, pastor and love this amazing group of 250 precious souls. In the job I found my calling, purpose and gifting as a pastor. I understood a little more my role as a catalyst to launch new things in the world. Watertown treated us like family and our family grew under their care. We will miss “the town of many diners” and these precious people at 525 Main St. more than anyone can imagine.
When I was 14 years old I had this epiphanic moment where I just knew I wanted to be a filmmaker. I’ve been making videos and doing fun creative stuff with my buddies ever since, including a degree in communications. Being a part of the creative and teaching teams at Grace was an important step in understanding where I contribute the best. I have had so much fun directing, producing, writing and editing videos and media as a part of my role at Grace that I want to continue to find ways to use creativity to tell stories that impact people.
What an amazing group of dedicated, smart, hardworking, caring colleagues, mentors, pastors and leaders. There is not a better situation for a young pastor than having a chance to lead a congregation, being a part of a large staff team and mentored by seasoned pastors that care about you as a person and a leader. Grace has a culture of personal development that has been vital. All the new things I had never done: funerals, baptisms, baby dedications and difficult pastoral situations, I was not alone. I had an amazing set of bosses in Richard Rhodes, Bill Burke and Bryan Wilkerson. The things I have learned from them will forever shape the ways that I lead and pastor and develop others.
There are too many amazing people that love God, love the world and are doing amazing things to bring healing, hope and joy to a hurting and broken world. More ministries than I can name or count have been birthed by the people and support of Grace Chapel. I am incredibly proud to have been a part of such an amazing congregation that plays an incredible role in kingdom impact in New England and around the world.
There is so much more to say, but nothing more than if I can be a part of planting a church that has 1/10th the impact that Grace Chapel has, my life will be an amazing testament to God’s grace.